Alumnus Acknowledges Cultural Adjustment
Marit has incredible insights to share on her experience with AMIGOS:
When warned about culture shock many first time participants imagine that it refers solely to the first few days in community. Be it latrines, dirt floors, chickens in the kitchen, bucket bathing, or evangelical masses keeping you awake late into the night, there will undoubtedly be aspects of life in a new country that you could never hope to prepare for. But no matter what, you will eventually acclimate, learning little tips to not only survive but prosper in your community.
For me, the cultural contention revolved around tortillas. Delicious, warm, handmade tortillas. Delicious, warm, handmade tortillas the size of dinner plates. Delicious, warm, handmade tortillas the size of dinner plates offered to me at least 15 times a day. Delicious, warm, handmade tortillas the size of dinner plates offered to me at least 15 times a day resulting in the gaining of 15 pounds and my inability to move for the first few hours of each day. If anyone ever told you that host families skimp on food for their participants, they were lying.
The question is how to let your family know that you really are full, but that you still love their tortillas. One solution, rub your stomach, so bursting with food you wonder how you will stand and walk to campamentos, look into your host mom’s eager eyes as she offers you that plate sized tortilla, and just give in. Eat the tortilla. Because you will run off the carbs chasing 5 year olds in campamentos, and nothing is worth hurting the feelings of the woman who made extra tortillas just for you. (If you really can’t eat another bite, the chickens are always hungry and really good at keeping a secret).
But the truth is those tortillas will quickly come to remind you of home, and you will come to crave the cuajada cheese that you so loathed the first day – cravings that will still be there 5 years later, and that the Chipotle burrito that you Uber Eats to your house won’t even begin to curb. Because it will become your home, and what you don’t realize is that the culture shock coming back to the States is much more dramatic. The blinking lights and paved streets and the person who just walked into a pole because Janet needs to know what happened last night and the text really just can’t wait? Those will bother you, and all you will want is some cuajada wrapped in a warm tortilla and the hug of the warm-eyed host mom, who at this point is just “mom.”
So for you poor souls who are wishing nothing more than to be back under a vibrant green canopy, speaking spanish and watching the beautiful latin American sun beat down on your sunburned but proud shoulders; here are some photos from other participants, in the same exact state of mind as you are.
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